Brave Enough to Spend a Cold Winter Night in this Montana Ghost Town?
Montana, known for its rugged beauty, wide-open spaces, and rich mining history, is home to numerous ghost towns that offer a glimpse into its past. These towns were once bustling communities, built around mines, railroads, or other industries, but have since been abandoned or mostly deserted. Montana's ghost towns offer a unique opportunity to experience the state's rich history and explore the remnants of its once-thriving communities.
Garnet, Montana's "other" famous ghost town.
Most of us have been to Virginia City and Bannack, but have you ever been to Garnet? Located approximately halfway between Helena and Missoula is where you'll find the remnants of a once thriving town. Originally named Mitchell, after Dr. Armistead Mitchell, the town sprang to life relatively quickly after the doctor opened a mining stamp mill to crush ore from the surrounding mines. GarnetGhostTown.org wrote,
By January 1898 nearly 1,000 people resided in Garnet. There were four stores, four hotels, three livery stables, two barber shops, a union hall, a school with 41 students, a butcher shop, a candy shop, a doctor’s office, an assay office, and thirteen saloons comprised the town.
A fire in the business district destroyed much of the bustling mountain town in 1912. Most residents left. In the 1930s, with the rise in gold prices, some mining activity returned. WWII happened a decade later and Garnet became a ghost town. Its history is fascinating to me, and you can read more about it HERE.
Would you stay overnight, in the winter?
Garnet is a busy tourist attraction in the summer months but in the winter it is very much a... ghost town (sorry for a cringy pun that I just couldn't pass up). Unlike many areas in Montana, this BLM-managed ghost town is closed for camping in the summer months, but you CAN rent one of two cabins in Garnet in the WINTER.
Two rental cabins are available December through April; arrangements need to be made in advance by calling the Missoula Field Office BLM.
Camping in a real ghost town in the middle of the winter sounds pretty creepy - and awesome - to me. Making the experience even more unique, you cannot access the cabins by car or truck in the winter. You have to snowshoe, cross-country ski, or ride a snowmobile into the area. The isolation and solitude must be amazing. Plus, maybe you'll bump into a spirit on a cold, dark, winter night in Garnet.
Note: Cabins are frequently booked for the winter season well in advance. You can find out everything you need to know about the rustic accommodations HERE.